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Mumbai Theatrical Debut!

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Part of my recent blogging ‘disappearing act’ is because I made my Mumbai acting ‘debut’!

Most would know that stage and film is my partner’s profession.

Onno Vivekananda

Onno Vivekananda

Few would know that there was a time when I flirted with this too. Waaaay back 30 years ago, along with regular school, I also attended Prairie Theatre Exchange‘s theatre school. Acted in a couple plays, did a TV commercial, taught drama education as a summer job and even landed a Drama Award.

No I wasn’t a drama queen – just enjoyed stage work. You could say I came by it naturally as I grew up  hanging out backstage as my mother donned costumes and make-up to go under the bright lights to sing her operatic heart out at the concert hall.

However I left that all behind decades ago until a friend persuaded me to help out a local Bengali community theatre group with a play on Swami Vivekananda. An amateur production with a director who has spent 20+ years writing & putting on plays raising charitable funds for both a cancer patients and girls education – worthy causes indeed!


Henrietta Muller + Margaret Noble

What began as ‘just a couple rehearsals’ and ‘a few lines’ introducing Sister Nivedita (Margaret Noble) somehow morphed into four scenes. I also quietly didn’t let most people know until too late – at 3 hours, 70% Bengali / 30% English followed by another 30 mins of speeches… it isn’t a play for everyone. While in keeping with traditional theatre, not exactly the snappy entertaining 90 min play today’s audience is accustomed too.

It was a remarkable experience and I wasn’t the lone ‘firangi‘ roped into the play. For those not familiar with the Swami Vivekananda story, he came to fame in 1893 when he spoke at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago – bursting the bubble of Christian missionaries depictions of life in India and its religious philosophies. Much of the 2nd act of the play was devoted to Western interest in Vivekananda, his teachings through the eyes of his followers from the US to the UK.

My "Mary Poppins" look :-)

My “Mary Poppins” look 🙂

There were also a few – ahem – unexpected twists (including a costume crisis) however overall it was an interesting experience and felt good to be back on stage after so long. It was also delightful to meet so many committed amateur actors who took their involvement very seriously. For all involved, they juggled rehearsals with their ‘real’ lives – finding ways to devote time and effort to the production.

I’m also pleased to share 3 lac (nearly USD 5,000) was raised! Bravo!

I’m still waiting for the group photos – it was a large cast! Don’t be surprised if there is another post or two about my recent stage adventure.

Anyone else have a drama tale to tell?

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  1. Sounds like an awesome experience. Studied a little film-making in college so this was fun to read. You look good as Mary Poppins! 🙂

    • Am sure your film-making talents peep out all over the place without you even realising it! 🙂

      Though I’m supposed to be Henrietta Mueller, a British lady and social reformer of the 1890s, somehow the moniker “Mary Poppins” has stuck!

  2. Congrats on surviving – and enjoying! – it all 🙂

  3. footwalker says:

    So good to see you embracing these experiences, unexpected twists and all! 🙂

  4. pollyheath says:

    That’s so amazing! Props to you for going along with it! (Is it too much to hope that their might be a video floating around on the internet…?)

  5. Shmruthi says:

    Wow amazing work! When it’s for a good cause it doesn’t hurt to dust your cape and come into the limelight again 😉 I would love to do something like this.. Don’t ve much of a theatre experience except a few plays in middle school but have always been comfortable on stage! By the way u look very much Mary Poppins, u could even star as one in the silver screen 😉

  6. Wow!!! Happy reincarnation…

  7. Bharti says:

    Wow the costumes look so professional and you look great! The play sounds fun. I’d have love to attend it actually.. let me know when you decide to go on stage again.. which is soon enough I hope. 🙂

    • Helps to have ‘professional’ help at ‘amateur’ rates ie very generous freebies! Rumour has it will be back 6 April in Bandra however… if all goes well on the project front… I may be back in Indonesia then… so let’s see!

      • Bharti says:

        I’ll keep a lookout for the same. Also.. dont you write about Indonesia ever? Would love to see that part of the world sometime…

        • More to come! I quite enjoy Jakarta – mostly as know a few pretty fabulous folks there which makes all the difference anywhere in the world.

          I have a few Indo posts planned and… fingers crossed! Will have another assignment there after my Malaysia one. 😉

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